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Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet
Kentucky Arts Council

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tom Musgrave
502-892-3122
tomr.musgrave@ky.gov

Elizabethtown High School Senior is Poetry Out Loud State Champion

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 13, 2018) — Elizabethtown High School senior Kiara Jones, 16, emerged as the leader of the pack among 16 competitors to win the Poetry Out Loud state championship March 13 at Frankfort’s Grand Theatre.

Sixteen Kentucky high school students represented their respective schools at the poetry recitation contest, which is sponsored by the Kentucky Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Each student is judged on the recitation, from memory, of two poems, one poem each in the first and second round. Poems are selected by the student and their teachers from a selected list of works. Five students were selected to advance to the third and final round, where they recited another prepared poem.

“I feel really excited, and grateful and also a little nervous at the responsibility of having to represent the state at nationals,” Jones said. Jones’ path to the championship included recitations of “Passing” by Toi Derricotte and “Life in Love” by Robert Browning in the first and second rounds, respectively. She clinched the state title with her interpretation of “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes.

“I picked (‘Passing’) because I feel like it really applied to me. I knew what the author was talking about when she was writing the poem and it was really easy for me to interpret it,” Jones said of her poetry selections. “(‘Life in a Love’) was really complex, just because the wording that was used isn’t normal for our everyday language. So it was fun to analyze that and figure out what he was trying to say. The third poem (‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’) I thought had a nice flow to it and was easy to interpret.”

Jones will represent Kentucky at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, April 23-25 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Other finalists were runner-up MacKenzie Ray from Grant County High School, Brianna Bradford from Betsy Layne High School, Suzanne M. Daniels from Allen County-Scottsville High School and Emma Mitmesser from George Rogers Clark High School.

In addition to an all-expense-paid trip for herself and a chaperone to the national finals, Jones will receive $200, and her school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. As runner-up, Ray will receive $100, and her school will receive a $200 stipend.

Along with Jones, Ray, Bradford, Daniels and Mitmesser, other school champions included:

  • Angelica Murphy, Augusta Independent School, Bracken
  • Blanca Aleman, Bowling Green High School, Warren
  • Trent Joseph Litteral, Boyd County High School, Boyd
  • Leann Goodman, Central Hardin High School, Hardin
  • Cameron Drew, Conner High School, Boone
  • Emilia Marks, Hart County High School, Hart
  • James Ray Hall, Jenkins Middle High School, Letcher
  • Morgan Price, Marshall County High School, Marshall
  • Jillian Smith, McCracken County High School, McCracken
  • Cody Baynori, Newport High School, Campbell
  • Luke Wheatley, Saint Xavier High School, Jefferson
Kiara Jones

Elizabethtown High School senior Kiara Jones won the Kentucky Poetry Out Loud state championship March 13 with her recitation of “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes in the final round. Jones will represent Kentucky at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, April 23-25 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Photo credits: Marvin Young/Kentucky Arts Council photo
Kiara Jones

Kiara Jones, 2018 Kentucky Poetry Out Loud state champion.

Photo credits: Marvin Young/Kentucky Arts Council photo

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The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.